800 Sales on ETSY and I Still Have My Towel

The first thing I want to say is 800 sales on ETSY for me has not always been the easiest road, some weeks and some months have proven very trying on me but I have to say I still have my towel. Along the way I have learned and shared my secrets on photos, tagging, marketing, promoting, and being an artist on a budget. They are the same trick of the trade that has been spun around like tie dye in many sellers advice threads, and its great advice to take. It’s the mechanics that holds your business together. Along the way I learned another thing that contains so many facets: Passion. This is the heart of your business, you can do all the mechanics right but if you lack this the mechanics don’t matter as much. So how do I keep that passion alive and keep on trying to keep my business thriving?

I Cut the Distractions. When I first started I felt I needed to do everything everyone else was telling me. So I Facebooked. I Twittered. I Myspaced. I Played in the Critique Threads. I did Project Wonderful. I Did Dwanda. I did Artfire. I can go on and on. I was spreading myself so thin, and was so busy with “promoting” tactics I was finding myself hating my business. It was tiring. It was boring. I had no creative time. Plus, it wasn’t working! it wasn’t working because I had spread myself too thin. I now just focus on my blog and facebook, and build the majority of my time in the creative department.

I Work on New Projects. When was the last time you made something new, and not just a new “color” of the item you have been making? Something unique, something different from what you have carried before? It’s so easy to get into repetition and get bored with the business when you are doing the same thing over and over. I am constantly buying different supplies, trying out other mediums.

I Get Involved. Something newer for me is my involvement outside of ETSY with the community. I used to just sell online, but now I am branching out into the community and I am really getting involved with other artists. It’s fun, its refreshing, it makes me feel like this is something more than just a hobby. This is my passion and its so rewarding to be around other people who are just as passionate as you are. Its inspiring. Thats why i love the forums, I love blogs, I love teams… I love the handmade/vintage/the crafty community

 I Wasn’t Afraid To Tear Down and Work From the Ground.  I started on ETSY selling handmade beaded jewelry. I enjoyed what I was doing but the not selling (and the realization that in the saturated market my stuff just didnt stand out) was killing my passion. I wanted to keep making jewelry. I wanted to be successful. So I abandoned my beaded jewelry in Jan 2010 and started from ground up making vintage inspired jewelry. I hit 100 sales in February 2010 after 18 long months and have added 700 sales since then.

I Take Creative Burnout Seriously. I don’t push myself when I need a break, I take a break. I have experienced burnout to the point I stopped crafting for many months, and it makes me sad losing that passion in my jewelry making. Don’t think you have to work everyday, create balance in your life. Take a day off. Take an afternoon off. Breathe. And you will find it flows together more smoothly.

ETSY and Artfire: Slow April Sales?

Have you been having slow April sales on Artifre and ETSY, this may not make you feel better but you can breathe knowing it’s Google… and not necessarily you.  That’s not a good thing either.  Apparently Google Base (which is now going to be called Google Merchant) is changing there feeds and the way they communicate to merchants which means the base feeding has been suspended…. your items aren’t in Google right now.  See this article below:

http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?name=forums&op=view_topic&tid=33640

ETSY How-To: Money in and Money Out

 

When running a business on ETSY (or any online venue, personal website, or home parties) it’s very important to keep track of money in and money out.  It’s nearly impossible to gauge how well your business is doing without keeping track of the necessary profits and expenditures.  Once you are tracking the in and out of money it can be easier to find budget limits, and determine where to cut costs from and where to put more money in.  If you aren’t already I would get an accounting software (Quickbooks is one of the best) and put it all your information; inventory, receipts, bills, advertising costs, and sales.  It’s also a great program to use to keep track of inventory pricing such as cost, wholesale price, and retail price of items you have for sale.

Here are some quick tips on how to save money once you gauge where your business stands with money in and money out:

* Have a Set ETSY Bill.  Every month determine the exact amount you want to spend on ETSY for listing new items and renewing. Remember if you want to only spend 60.00 a month don’t set your budget at 60.00 because you still have to account for items being sold and your commission costs to ETSY for those items being sold. If you sold $350.00 in merchandise on ETSY that’s $12.25 that will also be on your bill Try to stay as close to your budget as possible.

* Research Supply Prices.  Always remember this: You are not married to your supplier.  It’s okay to look for better pricing on items.  You may get lucky and your current supplier may price match the other supplier, but they won’t if you don’t ask.

* Dedicate to FREE Promotion.  There is no cheaper advertising than free advertising, and there are many ways you can do that.  I am currently working on a Facebook fan page, and it’s free.

* Cut Unreasonable Practices that Bleeding Money.  I was offering free shipping for a long time but with the cost of shipping going up and the cost of my mailers going up it was no longer practical for me. I still have very good shipping costs ($1.99 US, $2.99 international) but it was unreasonable on my already lower priced items to offer free shipping.

Hope this helps you out a little with your pursuit of making more profit in 2011.

How the 5 P’s Can Help You On ETSY

I came to ETSY in July 2008, with one thought on my mind: “I want to share my jewelry with others.” and that Artisan Dream is still as much alive in 2011 as it was in 2008, maybe even more now. I have five simple words I live by for marketing: persistance, Patience, Perfection, Projects, and Passion. Passion, the most newly added has helped me the most to keep going for what I enjoy most in life. I could never imagine not having jewelry in my life, and whatever I need to do to keep me passionate and happy about my craft I will try to do. There is a lot going on in ETSY, from the concerns with ineffective renewing all the way to the sadden feeling many sellers feel from Heartsy, the one thing that keeps me from dwelling on what I can’t control is remembering why I am here “to share my jewelry with others…” How can you use the 5 P’s?

Persistance: Keep going and keep being consistent with your marketing. So many of us spread ourselves thin, so thin it’s nearly impossible at that point to really be effectively marketing for customers. If you are only spending 10 minutes a day on Facebook, twitter, Project Wonderful… it takes away from building a following. YOU can always build a better base when you are strong, and are able to nurture those relationships. Can you imagine opening 15 shops at one time? Can you imagine effectively building up a good shop when you only get to spend 5 minutes a day on each? Think of your marketing the same way. Pick one or two venues of marketing and build them up from there. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Patience: Catherinerings had a wonderful thread about building a Facebook fan page following. Did you read it? It took her awhile to build her base of customers. Can you imagine throwing in the towel after a week because you don’t have sales. This is not an overnight success. You have to build, you have to be consistent, and you have to be patient. I highly recommend this thread if you are considering a Facebook fan page: http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6860668/page/1

Perfection: When I first started on ETSY I made the mistake of setting up shop and assuming I would make sales. My first pictures were horrible, my tagging was bad, and honestly I am surprised I made any sales in the first 6 months. It was only when I realized that you can always be working on shop, and always trying to improve it did I finally start making consistent sales. I am always revamping tags according to the merchandising article that ETSY has on their blog, I am always reworking tags, and changing pictures on items that are having a harder time selling. Projects: Aside from Passion this may be one of the most important P’s, Projects. If you stop crafting new things, stop listing new things, your followers will get bored. Don’t ever let customers get bored of you, or even worse you get bored of yourself. It’s so easy to get wrapped into the “I must sell mentality” and work on marketing all day, and never make time for that creative (and extremely crucial) part of your business. I am always making new items, new lines, and working on new ideas. In 2009 I abandoned most beaded designs and have been working with vintage pieces, cabochons, and cameos ever since. Right now 1/3 of my shop is on sale to make room for all my new jewelry I have been working on this last month.

Passion: Without that continued passion, you know the passion you felt when you first started creating and selling, then it’s hard to really keep that Artisan Dream alive. It has to be more than just money, it has to be all of the above to keep yourself wanting to really do this for yourself. It’s that repetitive I’m not selling that really gets us all in a rut, gets us discouraged, and makes us abandon all of our hard work. It’s that passion that causes so many to have a creative rut…. and sometimes it can last awhile. If you don’t have balance, creativity and marketing, I think that’s when your passion for this becomes affected.

Make it a great day, celebrate those milestones, and pat yourself on the back. There are many who think this is easy, and it’s not. It takes dedication and many sacrifice what others take for granted in order to try and live out that artisan dream.

ETSY 101: How to Promote in 2011

 

There are 3 P’s that come to mind when selling on ETSY and they all go hand in hand.  Without one P the others just don’t function as well.  Those 3 P’s are:  Promoting, Patience, and Passion.  A couple years ago I wrote an article on how to promote yourself on ETSY but I just wanted to add-on that article since there is more information, and other ways one can promote themselves on ETSY.  I think it’s also so very important to realize how passion and patience plays a key role in promoting effectively.  So yes having business cards, having a blog, social networking, being involved are some great ways to promote…. but let’s add onto that.

1.  Social Networking is the New Way to Meet.  So much of today’s world is online, how many businesses do you go to, restaurants, stores, shopping centers have a Facebook page you can follow?  A lot of them.  So why shouldn’t you?  I myself am going through the building up the Facebook fan base phase as well, so who wants to join the challenge with me.  My fanpage is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natural-Amber-Designs/207775495396 What better way to go viral with your business than online networking.  It’s proven to work, and yes you too can make it work for you.  I have found the greatest thread on how to do this, from a very successful ETSY seller CatherineRings. She has built a fantastic Facebook fan base, and shares her information here:

http://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/business-topics/discuss/6860668/page/1

2.  ETSY Treasuries.   I can not stress more the power of treasury on ETSY.  Your  chances become better in being treasuries if you create as well.  It’s how karma operates.  Also there are so many ways to up your chances in being one of these treasuries by doing some improvements in your shop.  The two key areas to focus on are tagging and picture-taking.  Take a good picture someone is going to want to put you in their treasury.  Tag it so they can find you, then that ensures you will be in treasuries.  Also it’s so very important to pay attention to ETSY’s merchandising desk.  They are telling you whats hot, and they are giving you hints on how to get in more treasuries.  So check out the below links. 

Tagging:

http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

ETSY Merchandising May 2011:

http://www.etsy.com/storque/seller-handbook/from-etsys-merchandising-desk-may-planning-12555/

List New Items Frequently.  At 20 cents a listing this really is the best way to keep your shop looking fresh.  People are looking at your shop all the time, and many of them are repeat lookers.  They may not have bought anything yet, but if you let your shop go stale those lookers are going to lose interest in you, and possibly walk away.  Plus, wouldn’t you rather spend your 20 cents bringing in a new item?   I try to list new things daily, and shoot for 20 new items a week between handmade and vintage pieces.  Here is one my newest:

Create New Items.  I used to do beaded jewelry, and then did a lot with flower cabochons (which I still do) but I moved into a different direction by adding cameos and vintage to my shop.  Sometimes bringing in fresh projects and pieces is all your shop needs to bring in new life.  So go shopping today!  Pick up supplies you have never worked with before and let your creativity lead you.

Stay Passionate and Patient.  Everything I said above is not going to happen overnight.  I think many of us get frustrated when we don’t see results in a day, a week, even a few weeks. It’s so important to build a strong foundation and wait for the results.  If you stay passionate about what you are doing and stay consistent in marketing and promoting yourself the results will come.  It took me 18 months to hit 100 sales on ETSY, it only took me a year to add over 600 more.  It was a long 18 months, but it was 18 months that I had to find myself and truly see what was working and wasn’t.  Business is finding the road that works best for you, and once you got the green light things will just fall in place.

ETSY 101: Selling Success

 

Brainstorming.

Risk.

Aiming Innovation.

Never Giving Up.

* Brainstorming. I challenge you to take a hard look at your shop and really discover whats working and not. Embrace slower times as a way to really analyze and find out what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, and what needs to be tossed. Perhaps you need to work on your tagging, your SEO, perhaps its time to find new ways to reach your target market. Pull up a chair and pull out a notebook and really think about what needs to be done to bump up your success.

* Risk. You figured out what you think may work. Go for it! Whether it’s a new marketing strategy, new tags, new pictures, local marketing. You will never know if it works unless you try, get over the fear and “risk”.

* Aim for some goals, some timelines, some mini projects. If you are serious about the success of your business and you want to see growth you have to be aiming for something. Write them down too in a notebook, research has shown that written goals are viewed as more concrete and are often times more successful in reaching.

* Innovation. To innovate is to bring in something new. Make a new line, bring in a new color, keep your shop looking fresh. Repeat customer love coming back to buy more, but they need more new things to look at! Making a new product line can bring in a new range of customers. Vintage inspired jewelry was what kept me on ETSY. I sold beaded jewelry before, and being among so many talented artists I was struggling.

* Never Giving UP. For many before they start making money they have to sacrifice a lot. Timothy Adam Designs has a great post about how much he sacrificed at first, and really puts in front of  the realities of what to expect. How much you want this, may also mean how much can you sacrifice in: hours, time, money… Persistance is so important to success. Some people in only takes weeks, some months, some years. Do you want this? If so keep your chin up and keeping aiming for your dreams

How to Be Seen on ETSY: Standing Out

Being in one of the most saturated categories on ETSY I know the feeling “I’ll Never Be Seen”, it’s hard sometimes to get yourself out of that slump when you are surrounded by many talented artists but there are ways, and ETSY Sellers are doing it everday. One of the main things to keep in mind is ETSY provides us a shopping cart and community support, but the rest is up to us. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. How would a buyer find you?

* Good Tagging!
I love this blog for the ETSY treasury team. They really give a great list of TAGS to use for your products. Ever since I have bookmarked this site, my tagging has increased views big time!
http://etsytreasuryteam.blogspot.com/2009/03/tagging-for-maximum-exposure-in-etsy.html

* Good Photos!
Photos on ETSY speak to the customer. Without a good picture your listing will get overlooked in search unless there are a small amount of people offering a similar item. I love this forum thread on ETSY and I go back to it over and over!
http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5169829

* Good Descriptions!
So you got the photos down, now it’s time to paint a picture in the customer’s head. Present it the item the best way you can without being too flowery but being creative so you don;t bore them! Check out this storque blog:
http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/seller-how-to-making-the-most-of-your-descriptions-635/

* Outside Online Advertising!
There are some great places online where you can buy advertising. I find a good portion of my buyers are actually ETSY sellers themselves which makes perfect sense why www.craftcult.com and www.craftopolis.com are great places to setup an add for a low cost! I mean $15.00 for a Carousel ad on Craftcult is an awesome price for advertsing!

* Outside Local/Print Advertising!
Often times you can submit ideas or advertising to magazines. I see alot of ETSY artists supplying craft ideas to magazines like Bead Magazine, or Bead Style. definitely worth looking into. My recent adventure has been posting business cards in local hardware stores. For jewelry you would think why? Well men have really appreciated having found a jewelry business card while out running hardware errands! Often times they call and say “My wife’s birthday is next week and your site is perfect! Can you make me a custom order?”

One of the hardest things for many sellers is when they setup shop they think now they will have buyers, I know I was under that impression so my sales didn’t kick off for almost a year! It is hard work for many to keep going at it but remember to have patience, persistance, and perseverance and good things will come — and never forget why you came here. Your passion to craft — you should never lose interest in that 🙂

ETSY: Best ETSY Selling Resources

selling on ETSY can be hard, but thankfully on the web there is a vast amount of helpful information to help kick-start your sales and make you a little more successful in your little shop.  These are some of my favorite articles from blogs and the Storque blog on ETSY:

How To Take Good Photos:

ShopMakeover : Feature Friendly Photos

Shopmakeover: Are Your Photos FrontPage Worthy

ShopMakeover: Photographing For Success

How To Improve Your Photos

How To Take Good Jewelry Pictures

Tagging to be Found on ETSY:

Increasing Your Item Views

Tag-O-Rama With Descriptive Keywords

Tag Finder Tool with Craftweasel.com

Tagging on ETSY

Tagging for Maximum Exposure

Packaging with Love:

Packaging Ideas

Handmade Branding

Fabulous Packaging

Pretty as a Package

Packaging and Shipping

Customer Service for Success:

Top 10 Customer Service Strategies

ETSY Customer Service Tips

The Buyers Perspective

How to promote Your ETSY Shop:

Participate in Weekend Deals

Google PageRank

Promoting Repeat Business

How To Promote Your ETSY Shop 101

ETSY Marketing Tips

ETSY 101: The 4 P’s to Selling

Persistance: Even when sales were slow and I felt like giving up I kept pushing forward. determination is what kept me from closing shop on ETSY. I had this false expectation that just setting up shop would mean sales, now I have learned its determination, promoting, and marketing that gets customers to your shop.

Patience: I had to learn that patience was key to success. It’s so easy to get caught up and compare yourself to many other shops on here. Once I learned to be patient I started to not get so down on lack of sales or views during slower times.

Perfection: There is no such thing and your shop always has room for improvement. This weekend I will be working on my new spring line, and the pictures that I have taken are better then the ones I have in my shop now… but I always know that you can improve on that. Never fear setting up construction in your shop.

Projects: Keep on crafting. Thats what brought you here. You’ll find yourself more happy that your continuing your art, and you’ll find customers love the freshness of new items in your shop!

Direct Link to the forum post this was inspired by: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6444980

ETSY Marketing 101: Spring 2010

 

The groundhog saw its shadow on the second which means there is less then5 weeks now until the beginning of Spring. Spring is one of my favorite seasons, lot’s of flower jewelry, accessories, and clothing can be found in abundance on ETSY, and also great spring deals as well! It’s important for any seller on ETSY to get a start on Spring Merchandising and Marketing EARLY! Here are some helpful tips to get yourself organized for a brand new Spring:

 

* Bring On a New Line:  This is what keeps your repeat customers coming back. This spring at  Natural Amber Designs I am planning on bringing in more vintage flower cabochons rings and earrings. Customers love fresh shops, and the fresher it is the more customers and sales you will be getting!

 

* Bring New Life to Packaging:  What a great time to kick your customer service up a notch by bringing in new packaging to ship your handmade and vintage goodies in. I recently visited NileCorp and bought myself new jewelry boxes and sashes to ship my jewelry in. It’s a great way to go that extra step to make your customers feel special about that recent purchase from your shop.

 

* Let’s Talk Clearance!  Ever heard of Spring Cleaning? How about spending a nice afternoon or evening browsing your shop and putting virtual clearance tags on older items to make room for your new line. Customers love that Spring brings sales, and what a great way to increase your sales and move older product then by putting those items in clearance mode!

 

* Be Seen Online Early:   I have both a Twitter and a Facebook account, I admit on both I haven’t been as active as I could be. Sometimes these just aren’t someone’s chose in marketing, but from what I have seen and heard from the forums on ETSY  they can be beneficial. I don’t plan on utilizing them a bunch but I am planning on using them more. Also I am looking into online advertising.

 

Most of all have fun! Spring is a great time to start fresh, bringing new possibilities to your shop!

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